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Wednesday, 11 July 2018 07:19

Saving Children in Thailand, Destroying Them in the US

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 Kid 0711wrp(Photo: Restless mind / Flickr)


As I listened to the news about the dramatic operations that recently rescued a young soccer team in Thailand, I was struck by the disturbing contrast in crisis management from two places on opposite sides of the world, acutely emblematic of two different countries and two completely different value systems.

On the one hand, the Thai government, their military, hundreds of volunteers and rescue experts from around the world successfully saved a soccer team of young boys who have been trapped in a flooded cave system since June 23. For the Thai people, no cost or sacrifice is too great to save the lives of these children. Elon Musk even had his engineers hastily build a mini-submarine in the event that the scuba diving escape strategy failed.

The cave rescue attempt in Thailand is indeed a celebration of the preciousness of human life. Seeing people value and protect each other's lives, especially those of children, above all other considerations, should bring to tears anyone who has a shred of empathy. 

At the same time, events on the other side of the world bring tears to one's eyes for exactly the opposite reason. We are witnessing the reeling of a nakedly cruel administration, busily -- and even gleefully -- engaged in destroying the lives of thousands of poor, innocent immigrant children, under the false pretense that they are "criminals." These are children from families who, in desperation, looked to the United States as the great moral beacon of hope to escape poverty and often death from violence in their own countries.

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Instead of rescuing children, the Trump administration is tearing babies from their mothers' arms, telling them they are going to give them a bath and never bringing them back. In contrast to Thailand, no cost is too great for the Trump administration in conducting this atrocity. It has been estimated that the cost of keeping immigrant children in tent cities separated from their parents, is a staggering $775 per person, per night.

In a USA Today opinion piece from last year, Trump was described as "a 71 year old kid delightedly melting ants under his magnifying glass." But with our great-orange-adolescent-in-chief, it is no longer ants, no longer his antagonists -- the Maxine Watters, the John McCains or Elizabeth Warrens. It is no longer enough for Trump to satisfy his sadistic impulses with childish tweet tantrums aimed at humiliating his detractors. He is aiming that magnifying glass now on the lives of little children.

Trump's sadism trickles down to everyone unfortunate enough to find themselves beneath him: to his cabinet members and those that staff federal agencies, who paid no attention whatsoever to how they might ever reunite these children with their families. Such agencies even destroyed the very skimpy records they initially kept, making it almost a certainty that many of these families have been torn apart forever, orphaning children.

Trump's hypnotic wickedness has contaminated not just government policy, but broadly "infested" (to use his own term) our society and culture, emboldening those who traffic in bigotry. Attacks against Muslims, South Asians, Sikhs, Hindus, Arabs and other Middle Eastern groups increased 45 percent in 2017, for instance.

Trumpism has eroded the US population's simple human decency and basic empathy for one another, and even corrupted what it means to be "God fearing" and "Jesus loving." Trump received 80 percent of the Christian Evangelical vote, and still enjoys their widespread approval. Where I live, among Mormons in Utah, he still enjoys his highest approval ratings, 61 percent. I live next to some of the nicest neighbors on Earth, yet they support a president that eagerly destroys the lives of children.

The dehumanizing of these poor people, the selfishness and the gratuitous cruelty toward them reveals the US's inner moral depravity. The United States' moral high ground has always been largely mythological, with a long and sordid history of meddling in the affairs of other countries to benefit the government's own interests, and starting immoral wars on false and self-serving pretenses.

Even still, in my adult lifetime, I have never seen our country so proudly and brazenly project an official, unilateral, callous and racist disregard for the lives of other human beings. Trump and his supporters would be more concerned if these were dogs and cats being separated from their owners at the border than children with darker skin, from "shithole" countries.

Ironically, the myth of the US's "greatness" in the world has been most fiercely embraced by those who are now dragging us into the moral abyss. Trump and his chest-thumping, Bible-waving, Pied-Piper followers, who are just fine with imprisoning babies in cages, are demanding that the next Supreme Court be dogmatically "pro-life." The vile stench of US cruelty, racism and hypocrisy now openly wafts around the world, all under a propaganda banner that would make Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl proud -- "Making America Great Again."